Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cambodia (Siem Reap): Day 4 / Thailand (Bangkok): Day 1

So it comes to my final day in the land of amazingly nice people, fascinating culture, and buckets of sweat. Seriously, I was out before 9 AM this morning, and I was already sweating quite a bit.

I got to sleep in a little this morning seeing I had nowhere immediately to be. Strangely, it's in this last day that the only minor annoyances with the Villa I'm staying at happened. First, a couple times throughout the night, the power turned off for a while. Not a big deal. I slept through most of it. When I finally got up (about 6:30), I hopped in the shower. And then the power goes out again. Fortunately, as I stand there in pitch darkness and quickly cooling water, I had pretty much finished the shower. So again, all is fine. I get dressed and head to the restaurant for some breakfast. They forget to ask me if I wanted the juice that came with my meal, so I had to ask for it when they brought the food (I wasn't charged extra, so that was fine). And then they forgot to bring out part of the meal (and, in fact, didn't until I had already finished everything else). But they're all ridiculously nice people, so I forgave it. Oh, and later, there was a baby gecko in my bathroom. Again, all minor things, and none of them entirely bothered me.

I soon decided to try shopping one more time to see if I could find anything. I walk down the road towards the Old Market, and the girls in front of a local eatery--as they do every time I pass--smile and tell me hello and try to get me to come in and eat. What I like about them is that it's not just a blanket greeting. At least it doesn't seem to be. Any time they don't try to get me to eat there, they still seem legitimately happy to see me and want to tell me hello and to have a nice time. That's how friendly Cambodians are.

So I make it to the Old Market and wander around a bit. I find a shop with some larger sized shirts, and the lady takes me into it to show me even bigger. She brings me some big samples, and I choose one to buy. Knowing full well this is a bargaining country, I prepare myself when I ask "...how much?" At first she says 8 dollar. To which I respond, "8?" *pause* And she says what sounds like "three," but I'm not sure it was, so I ask,  "Three?" *pause* (For all I know, it could have been a really awkwardly pronounced six). So then she goes, "Five dollar." "Five? OK." Yes... this lady bargained for me. I didn't do anything but repeat what she said, and she kept lowering the price. That was easy.

I make it back to the Villa all on my own and don't even get lost (hooray!). The shirt ends up to be slightly small, but if I lose a few pounds, it'll fit fine. Then I just had to chill and wait for my driver to come at 11:30 to take me to the airport. The time comes, and I go to check out. Not only did I get a complimentary scarf (I think that's what it is, anyway), they took a picture with me for their own gallery (I think they do this with every guest).

I get in my Tuk Tuk and head to the airport. After all the annoyances being in an airport tends to offer, I get to my gate. I use the last of my money to get a chocolate muffin from a "Blue Pumpkin" stand (the same company I got the ice cream from a couple days ago). And then, eventually, get onto the plane. The plane ride itself was a little freaky. Strange noises at take-off and rocking back and forth on descent. But we made it safe and sound.

I get through immigration and customs (which, somehow, was even easier than Cambodia... mostly because it's nearly non-existent. You fill out no forms and just... walk on by). I find my driver waiting for me. He looks like an older Thai version of Smokey from The Big Lebowski. Like a cool, laid-back grandpa.

Just put the hair in a ponytail and give him a wispy mustache.
Not only that, but it's the weirdest drive ever. It took a good while to get to the guest house where I'm staying, so just imagine that guy driving (on the left side of the road, which Thailand apparently does), and we're listening to instrumental versions of songs including but not limited to "Top of the World" by The Carpenters and "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. I see a billboard that states something to effect of "It's wrong to decorate or use the Buddha as tattoo. Do not buy or sell the Buddha." We also pass about a hundred cops all geared up because of nearby anti-government protests (there was apparently a bad shooting this morning). But don't worry, I'm not near the protest sites and don't plan on being. My initial reaction to Bangkok is... it's a pretty average major city, akin to Houston mixed with a little San Antonio.

We eventually make it to the guest house, which is frankly the most well-hidden nook in the city. We had to park in an alley street and then walk down an even smaller alley to get to it. I basically decided I probably won't be going out on my own while I'm here. The area seems complicated to get around in, and with it being more well hidden than my hotel in Beijing, I doubt any cab could find the place. I know I'd never be able to find it again on my own.

So I go in, and it's suddenly like a whole different world. It's this multi-story oasis in the middle of a bustling city. You can't hear any of the big city life. There are these big lounge areas, a restaurant, a souvenir shop, a communal bathroom, a laundry room, etc. In fact, there really is no reason to leave except to go on the tours.

So anyway, I get there and have to wait while they get me checked in. They give me some kind of complimentary drink, which was some kind of grape or berry juice. And then the girl shows me around. I start getting worried when she tells me about the communal shower and bathroom, since I thought I'd have my own. We go to the second floor to my room and go in (and, yes, there is a rather nice bathroom). In fact, the whole room is pretty awesome and looks really nifty. But how about we see some pictures? Oh, and a video that I took touring my room.

This leads back toward the laundry, bathroom, and staircase.

I really don't plan on doing anything big tonight. I'll probably go down and eat at the restaurant and stay in my room otherwise. So I'm just gonna go ahead and post this sooner than later. And if anything major happens in the next 5 hours or so, I'll update. Until then, talk to you later!

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